Family is a priority for Ed Forslund.
And that’s why the relationship he has with other Okanagan Landing firefighters was front and centre as he retired from the department Tuesday.
“One of the guys said it’s like having 30 brothers,” said Forslund, who had been with the department for 37 years, 10 of them as chief.
“In good times and bad times, you’re always doing something for each other. I’m thankful that I had an opportunity to be a member of this department.”
Forslund is the last active charter member of the force from its founding in 1975.
“I hit 60 and I felt it was time to let some young guys in. It’s a big commitment,” he said of retirement.
Forslund has the respect of his peers.
“Ed’s been a backbone to the department. His service is amazing,” said Dan Fuhr, the Landing’s new chief.
“I’ve got to watch him and learn from him. He’s an amazing influence.”
When asked about memorable fires, Forslund recounts a Lakeshore Road blaze in the early 1980s that claimed a resident’s life.
“That one is always in the back of my mind,” he said.
He also can’t forget responding to a 1999 fire at the original Paddlewheel Park Hall, which had played host to community events, including those put on by the fire department.
“That was a really emotional one,” said Forslund.
Forslund says he couldn’t have dedicated himself to the volunteer fire department if he didn’t have the support of a number of people.
“I’d like to thank my family for being so understanding and for me missing dinners (to respond to fires) and going to practices,” he said.
“I’d like to thank the community and the department for giving me the opportunity. It’s been a good ride.”
While Fuhr is new as chief, he has a long history with the hall.
His father, Doug, was a charter member in 1975 and chief.
“I grew up in the hall until I was 10 years old when Dad retired,” said Fuhr, an equipment operator for the City of Vernon.
He joined the department 10 years ago and has been deputy chief for the past year. He believes taking on the chief’s duties is a natural progression.
“I’ve been working my way up through the ranks and the opportunity opened up and I think I can do the job,” he said.